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August 3, 2023

Florida complete its fifth execution of 2023, more than its total in prior five years

As reported in this AP piece, a "Florida man who recently dropped all legal appeals was executed Thursday for the 1988 murder of a woman who was sexually assaulted, killed with a hammer and then set on fire in her own bed." Here is more:

James Phillip Barnes, 61, was pronounced dead at 6:13 p.m. following a lethal injection at Florida State Prison in Starke.... The 61-year-old inmate was sentenced to death for the murder of nurse Patricia “Patsy” Miller. It was the fifth execution in Florida this year....

Barnes was serving a life sentence for the 1997 strangulation of his wife, 44-year-old Linda Barnes, when he wrote letters in 2005 to a state prosecutor claiming responsibility for killing Miller years earlier at her condominium in Melbourne on Florida’s east coast.

Barnes represented himself in court hearings where he offered no defense, pleaded guilty to killing Miller and did not attempt to seek a life sentence rather than the death penalty. Miller, who was 41 when Barnes killed her on April 20, 1988, had some previous unspecified negative interactions with him, according to a jailhouse interview he gave German film director Werner Herzog. “There were several events that happened (with Miller). I felt terribly humiliated, that’s all I can say,” Barnes said in the interview....

Barnes killed his wife in 1997 after she discovered that he was dealing drugs. Her body was found stuffed in a closet after she was strangled, court records show. Barnes has claimed to have killed at least two other people but has never been charged in those cases....

Though unusual, condemned inmates sometimes don’t pursue every legal avenue to avoid execution. The Death Penalty Information Center reports that about 150 such inmates have been put to death since the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the death penalty as constitutional in 1976.

According to this DPIC page, Florida had no executions between 2020 and 2022, and only two each year in the prior two years.  The single-year record for executions in the Sunshine state is eight, though it seems no more executions are as of now yet scheduled in the state.  There are more than 300 people on the state's death row, though I am un sure how many have exhausted their appeals.

August 3, 2023 at 07:58 PM | Permalink


Ron DeathSantis!

Posted by: federalist | Aug 4, 2023 9:18:36 AM

Exhausting appeals (at least in the states that are trying to carry out executions and have cleared challenges to their method of execution) is the key event controlling the number of executions. So I'm really not sure you can tell much other than how quick or slow the courts are from the number of executions in a given year in states like Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas. And it looks like Alabama, Arizona, and Oklahoma can now be included in that list of states ready and willing to execute when an inmate becomes execution eligible. Some years those states will have large numbers and other years those states will have small numbers.

Posted by: tmm | Aug 4, 2023 10:51:19 AM

Few people condemned to death in Kentucky are ever actually executed. Kentucky has executed only 5 people since 1954, and 2 of the last 3 people executed withdrew their appeals, quit fighting the sentence, and demanded to be executed. Presently, there are only 28 people on death row in Kentucky. A few years ago, one inmate on death row died of cancer after spending 28 years waiting to be executed. Kentucky is an interesting state when it comes to the death penalty. 67% of Kentucky residents surveyed say that they are in favor of the death penalty in appropriate cases. Yet, in 2009, there were 106 Death Qualified juries empaneled, but they recommended death in 0 cases! Everything changes when they put you in the jury box, and give you the opportunity to look another human being in the eye and say, "Kill Him"!

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Aug 6, 2023 6:36:44 AM

It is hard to believe that Kentucky prosecutors have pursued the death penalty in 106 cases in 2009 alone. Nor even from 2009 to this day, and there have been death sentences in Kentucky since 2009.

More broadly, rare death sentences imposed by juries are just an indication that the citizenry supports the death penalty just for rare crimes.

Posted by: Jackson | Aug 7, 2023 12:14:08 PM

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